Suppose you have the dreaded nail infection, it’s important to know that most nail infections are fungal and typically affect the toenail. Just like bacteria, fungi exist with us in our bodies, but when they begin to overgrow, that’s when we get an infection.
Nail fungal infection, also known as onychomycosis or tinea unguium, doesn’t just occur immediately but develops over time making subtle changes to your nail that may be too subtle to notice at first.
In this article, we shall discuss how to best treat your nail infection, whether you opt for a home remedy or medical treatment that is easily accessible from an online pharmacy. Hopefully, we’ll leave you with some helpful information at the end of the day.
Causes of Nail Infection
As previously mentioned, a fungal nail infection occurs when there is an overgrowth of fungus in your body’s nails. This overgrowth occurs typically in moist, warm environments—since fungi love to thrive in these areas.
Dermatophytes are the most common group of fungi known for causing nail infections. However, various types of mold and yeasts can cause these infections, such as Trichophyton Rubrum, Microsporum Gypseum, and Trichophyton Soudanese.
It’s also worth noting that the same fungi that cause athlete’s foot and jock itch. Furthermore, Ringworm can also cause onychomycosis. This is why you should be very conscious of your nail hygiene. Fungal infections can also be transmitted from person to person through the use of unsanitized tools, clothing, and other equipment.
For example, nail fungal infections can be sent by foot tubs, filers, and clippers used for manicures or pedicures in a salon. Communal showers at swimming pools or the gym also can give you an infection.
As for athlete’s foot infection, this may occur due to athletes wearing sweaty and tight-fitting shoes for long periods. During sports games, your foot can also be stepped on, kicked, or may hit something consistently, weakening the toenail and making it more susceptible to infection.
Kinds of Nail Infection
The types of fungal nail infections mainly include:
- Proximal subungual onychomycosis
This kind of infection is not the most common but does affect both your fingernails and toenails. It typically appears as yellow or white discoloration in the center of the nail base and begins to spread upward. Those with compromised or weak immune systems are more susceptible to being affected by this infection.
- Distal or lateral subungual onychomycosis
Distal subungual infections are known as the most commonly occurring nail infection, affecting both the toenails and fingernails. When it starts, you will notice yellow streaks in your nail bed, which spreads out from the nail edges and invades the nail bed’s center and the nails’ underside.
- Candidal onychomycosis
Candida yeast is the cause of this infection and affects typically already damaged and injured nails. Fortunately, it commonly infects fingernails only. If you usually like to soak your hands in water, we suggest you ensure the water is extremely clean or desist from soaking your hands altogether. This is one of the most effective ways of contracting this infection. Your fingernail becomes swollen and tender to the touch and may even fall off the nail bed.
- White superficial onychomycosis
This is the least common out of the bunch and affects typically only the fingernails. When affected, the nail begins to show whitish spots, which eventually covers the entire fingernail. Shortly after, the nail becomes soft, flaky, and may even crumble in extreme cases.
How to Best Treat a Nail Infection
Even nail fungal infections may be tough to get rid of, but if you stick to the remedies and prescriptions given to you by your doctor, you would be able to come out well healed. Some treatments include:
- Topical antifungals
These are liquids or creams prescribed by doctors when the infection is mild and hasn’t gotten deep into the skin tissue. It is applied on the nail 2 to 3 times daily and can be combined with a pill.
- Oral antifungals
When the infection is a little more serious, you may be given oral antifungals. This is one of the best ways to effectively eliminate nail infections, with treatment lasting between 2 and 3 months, depending on which type of nail it is. Some examples of oral antifungals include fluconazole (Diflucan), terbinafine (Lamisil), and itraconazole (Sporanox).
Surgery should be the final remedy if topical and oral antifungals do not work. This involves the doctor removing the infected nail entirely, cleaning the nail bed, and letting a new healthy nail grow back.
- Home remedies
For those who may not afford medication or may prefer more natural remedies, you can try out Vicks VapoRub, Oregano oil, Tea Tree Oil, Snakeroot extract, Listerine, and Vinegar. These should only be used when there is a mild infection. Apply any of these remedies directly on the nail or create a footbath and soak your toe for 20 – 30 mins daily.